Other paths traveled...
out all the stops |Size wise | Now
Facing Lithuania --
Kathryn Kuzmich '93
By Nancy Bartosek
beauty of the cool, misty afternoon, remembers Fort Worth freelance photographer
Kathryn Kuzmich '93, was that she had no idea what might present itself.
It was just another day in a three-month excursion to her ancestral homeland
-- a 1995 trip to reconnect family ties broken by war and her grandmother's
the old couple primarily because they were a couple. An unusual sight,
she noted, in a land that seemed segregated by gender. She followed them
a short distance, reloading her empty camera, until they turned left at
a crossing. Raising the lens, her shutter clicked once.
lowered her arms, she turned slightly right. Up the lane trotted two children,
a babushka-clad girl, clearly in control of the bike, a barefoot boy struggling
to keep up.
planned," she said. "It was just one of those things that happened." That
night, Kuzmich noted in her journal:
know what's going to come around the corner. Everything happens for a
reason. It's up to us to open our eyes and see.
also discovered that sponge baths can get the job done -- in Lithuania,
even in the cities, hot water is a hot commodity -- though she opted for
weekly showers with stove-warmed water. It was one of many growing experiences
-- like helping with daily chores on a primitive farm, complete with outhouse
and communal drinking ladle at the well.
more than one way to do things.
"I was really
needy over there," she said, explaining that at first she didn't speak
their language, nor they hers. So she relied heavily on the kindness of
others, which was readily available once people discovered she wasn't
this one old lady in Alytus and I wanted to take her picture," she said.
"At first she was very cold, but once I told her I was an American and
wanted to photograph her people, she was so warm. She just kept pinching
and pinching my cheeks."
initial stony disposition was among many walls that Kuzmich learned weren't
really obstacles once she approached them with confidence. Everyone that
enters your life has a message for you. You just have to be ready to hear
it. I learned to let strangers into my life, to be nice, kind and not
quick to judge. We are all on this earth for a reason.
so much for granted here in America," she said. "We have everything in
the world and the opportunity to choose what we want. But sometimes we
get caught up in material things. That isn't important to me now."
back to Lithuania is. This spring she'll return to chronicle the lives
of disposable children in eight orphanages, two group homes and some health
clinics. There she'll combine her penchant to plan with newly discovered
and see what is thrown at you.
I learned to just float around and try to see everything as a photograph,
open my eyes to it and see everything around it," Kuzmich said, laughing
at her ditzy-sounding self-description. But flexibility will be particularly
important as her camera is focused on the despair she might find in places
no photographer has been allowed to visit.
is courtesy of the Lithuanian Orphan Foundation, an American group dedicated
to providing assistance and placing children with families. Kuzmich knows
she's only partially prepared for the loneliness she might see.
I'll be helping them and I want to try to capture any beauty, laughter
and friendships that I might find," she said.
certainly be different from the day she spent pitching hay and skimming
milk, the times she wandered country roads in search of Lithuanian life.
Weeks that ended too soon.
hard to believe that something I've worked so hard for is almost over.
It's like when you read a good book and it's finished, it's always sad
to close it. You wish the author would have written more.
what I thought about leaving Lithuania. So I am going back over there
to write some more.